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June 30

First Martyrs of the Holy Church of Rome

The Story of the First Martyrs of the Holy Church of Rome

The holy men and women are also called the "Protomartyrs of Rome." They were accused of burning Rome by Nero , who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified, others were fed to wild animals. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called "disciples of the Apostles. . . whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles' death."

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome’s Story

There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the “Apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in 57-58 A.D.

There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in 49-50 A.D. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city “caused by the certain Chrestus” [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius’ death in 54 A.D. Paul’s letter was addressed to a Church with members from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds.

In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their “hatred of the human race.” Peter and Paul were probably among the victims.

Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.






Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184

Roma, Italy

Circus Maximus
, Italy


The Colosseum, a Christian shrine, partially ruined because of damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and also has links to the Roman Catholic Church, each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Stations of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.


Circus Maximus




Feast of the Holy Roman Protomartyrs



Limoncello Babas

Limoncello babas are delicious little Italian pastries. The babas are made with a sweetened yeast dough and are soaked with Limoncello syrup after baking. They can be served plain, with whipped cream and fruit or sliced open and filled with gelato or ice cream.

Serving size will vary depending on the size of the molds used. Special baba molds which measure about 2.5 inches in diameter and 3-4 inches deep are available and will yield aboout 12-15 babas with this recipe. You can also use a popover pan which is similar in size and shape to the traditional baba molds and yields about 8 babas.





  • 1 package (2 teaspoons) dry yeast

  • 1/4 cup warm milk,  105 - 115 degrees F

  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

  • 2-1/4 cups flour

  • Pinch salt

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

Limoncello Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1-1/2 cups water

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • limoncello liqueur1 cup 


To make the dough:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside for

  2. 5-10 minutes until the mixture starts to bubble. Transfer the yeast mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and mix to incorporate. Add the flour, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar.  Mix to combine. Add the softened butter and mix until the dough is smooth. The dough will be very sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour.

  3. Butter the baba molds. Stir down the dough with a wooden spoon.  

  4. Fill each baba mold about 2/3 full of dough.The dough will be very sticky to handle, so we recommend using an ice cream scoop to transfer the dough to the baba molds.Cover the molds with plastic wrap that has been coated with a non-stick cooking spray. Allow the babas to rise until they have just formed a dome over the tops of the molds, 15-20 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  6. If you are using individual molds, place them on a baking sheet for ease in transferring them into the oven. Bake the babas 15-20 minutes or until they are dark brown on top. Turn them out of the molds and allow them to cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

To make the syrup:

  1. Put the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a wide saucepan and bring to a boil.

  2. Cook until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat. Stir in the limoncello liqueur.  Set aside.

  3. After the babas are removed from the oven and have cooled for 10 minutes, place them in a large bowl. Pour the warm syrup over the babas. Carefully rotate them a few times in the syrup for about 5 minutes. The babas will soak up most of the syrup.  If you see that the babas are getting too soft, remove them earlier. Place the babas on a plate or wire rack to drain.

  4. Babas are best served within a few hours of baking but they can be stored for a day or two. Serve them with some whipped cream and slices of fresh fruit or berries. Cut the babas in half horizontally and fill with a scoop of gelato.

Vanilla gelato


  • 4 large egg yolks

  • 3⁄4 cup sugar

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt

  • vanilla bean


  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the milk, cream, vanilla bean and salt until combined.

  2. Set the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until a thermometer inserted into the mixture reads 170°. Remove from the heat.

  3. Set a fine strainer over an airtight container and pour the mixture through. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days (this helps cooked custard bases achieve a stable consistency).

  4. In the bowl of an ice cream maker, churn the mixture according to the manufacturer's directions until it's firm and billowy, and a spoon dragged across the top leaves a lasting impression, about 30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hardened, at least 4-5 hours. Later on, if it's too firm, thaw it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before scooping and serving. For best results, eat within 2 days of freezing.

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